California Party Lines Changing

January 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
There are more Democrats registered in California than Republicans but if Independent voters turn out in next month's primary they could have a big impact on the outcome of the election.That's because more Californians are calling themselves Independents.

A recent study just released by the Public Policy Institute of California shows more voters in the state are leaving traditional party lines.

As the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans deepens, more voters are registering as Independent or "decline-to-state".

California's presidential primary is just two weeks away and many valley voters have already made up their minds how they will mark their ballot pretty much.

However party lines aren't so defined anymore.

The study by the PPIC shows the number of Independent voters in California has increased from 2.3 million in 2000 to 3 million today.

Compare those numbers with these: The combined number of Democrats and Republicans totaled 12.6 million in 2000. Right now the combined total is 11.8 million.

Richard Unruh, a political science professor at Fresno Pacific University says more and more voters have become disillusioned with traditional party politics.

"An overall weakening of party identification? Some people are more interested in issues and they may not identify with parties that line up with their issues? Disillusionment with government particularly on the part of younger people," says Unruh.

Unruh's reasoning is certainly true with this young voter, though a registered democrat, Joseph Tipay is paying close attention to the issues.

"Being young, being in college? Healthcare has been a big problem for me. That's one of the main issues I'm looking for," says Tipay.

So if California's 3 million Independent voters decide to cast their ballots February 5th, Unruh says Barrack Obama and John McCain would be favored to win.

He says McCain is not your normal Republican candidate and is a straight talker.

"I think in Obama's case, he has sort of a natural cross party appeal that he already been working on since his speech at the Democratic convention," he says.

One more prediction from Professor Unruh concerning Independent voters. If Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani are the Democratic and Republican candidates in the general election, Unruh predicts New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will jump in the race as an Independent.


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